Polish parish celebrates renovation - Catholic Courier

Polish parish celebrates renovation

ROCHESTER — The heart of this city’s Polish Catholic community now beats within a much healthier body than it did a few years ago.

On Nov. 14, hundreds of people filled St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Hudson Avenue almost to capacity for a 10 a.m. Polish/English Mass as its parishioners celebrated the completion of a highly successful restoration campaign that began in 1998, according to Kathy Urbanic, campaign chairwoman.

A historian of the Rochester Polish community, Urbanic said that although the campaign set out to raise $500,000 in five years, the parish actually met that goal in only 15 months. St. Stanislaus has raised more than $800,000 during the campaign, she added.

“When we put the goal out there, the (restoration) committee was really nervous,” Urbanic said. However, she added that she wasn’t surprised by the response. “We knew that people would give because this parish means so much to so many people.”

Paul Tremmel, of the parish’s building committee, seconded Urbanic’s notion of the parishioners. He noted that the parish membership was made up of both dedicated immigrants from Poland and natives of the neighborhood surrounding the church.

“You can still see them helping out,” he said.

Father Adam Ogorzaly, pastor, said he felt great that the parish had restored the ornate Lombard Romanesque Revival church.

“The dedication of the parishioners is really superb,” he said. He said that St. Stanislaus was a reminder of Poland itself, all because of the efforts of the earliest immigrant parishioners, who built the church early in the last century. The church was built over numerous evenings by the early parishioners after they had worked all day at their jobs, Urbanic noted.

“When they left their homeland, they never thought that they would return,” Father Ogorzaly said of the parish’s founders. “They built the church to remind them of their homeland.”

Indeed the interior of the church contains numerous statues and figures of Eastern European saints, as well as a prominent portrait of Polish-born Pope John Paul II, and an altar dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochwa, the “Black Madonna” who is Poland’s patroness.

According to Urbanic, almost 1,000 individuals and families — from three continents, four countries and 20 states — contributed to the restoration campaign. More than 35 organizations also donated to the effort, with the parish’s Latin Mass community giving almost $22,000 alone, she said. The parish also held fundraisers and received memorial gifts, she said, noting that the parish also procured more than $48,000 in grants.

The campaign enabled the parish to make extensive repairs to the church, including fixing its tower; replacing the roof; repairing and replacing gutters and downspouts; painting exterior wood surfaces; repairing windows; making electrical repairs and improvements; replacing the cupola and tower domes; and fully restoring the church’s interior artwork.

In 2002, Urbanic said the parish needed to make repairs to safeguard the structure of the church, which was dedicated in 1907. The church’s exterior has been designated a Rochester landmark. By the 1990s, however, tiles had occasionally fallen to the ground from the church’s tower; water had damaged masonry; and leaks in the church’s main and sacristy roofs were among the many structural problems plaguing the church, according to campaign information.

Those problems are now in the past, according to Urbanic, who stressed her gratefulness to the parishioners for helping with the campaign.

“This community values its history and tradition and heritage deeply,” she said. “There was no question for this community that we wanted to restore the full beauty of the church.”

Copyright © 2024 Rochester Catholic Press Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Linking is encouraged, but republishing or redistributing, including by framing or similar means, without the publisher's prior written permission is prohibited.

Choose from news (Monday), leisure (Thursday) or worship (Saturday) — or get all three!

No, Thanks

Catholic Courier Newsletters